Why we Love the Lake District in Argentina

Lake District in Argentina, the blue lago Alumine surrounded by Andean MountainsI follow a winding trail along the slopes, which demands a bit of clambering over slippery rocks. I pick another handful of those juicy blackberries along the path, which constitute my breakfast. At a stream, I strip and lower myself into one of the shallow pools sheltered by rocks. Water of 100º degrees (40 degrees Celsius) flows down my shoulders, which is bliss in the crisp temperatures of dawn.

Around me are twittering birds, chirping cicadas, and crawling insects that are leaving their hiding places to search for food or to warm up in the sunlight that filters through the foliage. Leaves rustle and their coloring betrays the arrival of fall. This little paradise is mine until about ten o’clock, when other hikers start crossing my path. Even then it remains a quiet place; few have discovered this hidden hot spring near Lago Queñi. Continue reading

Where to Learn All About Che Guevara?

Painting of Che Guevara on Plaza de la Cooperation, Rosario (1997).

Painting of Che Guevara on Plaza de la Cooperation, Rosario (1997).

Truth be said, before coming to South America I didn’t know much about Che Guevara. Some kind of revolutionary guy, right? But what exactly had he done in Cuba and Bolivia? And ‘Che’, what kind of name is that, anyway? And no, I had not read his Motorcycle Diaries, or seen the movie that followed.

All that changed when we reached Argentina. When we visited Rosario, near Buenos Aires, we stumbled upon two interesting things. First, it was Flag Day. Second, Che Guevara was born here. It was time to learn a bit more about this guy. Continue reading

Where to Eat Great Ecological Food in Argentina

Ecological Food at Cadonga, Central Argentina (©photocoen)Beautifully located amidst the green undulating hills of the Sierras Chicas in Córdoba Province, Candonga was one of our surprises when traveling in central Argentina. Our friend Agustín, at whose nearby estancia we were camped for some a couple of months, invited us on a day trip. “I want to share something with you,” was all he gave away. Continue reading

Celebrations and Holidays in Argentina

During Flag Day, Argentina's largest flag is carried around (©photocoen)

During Flag Day, Argentina’s largest flag is carried around

We thought Rosario was one of Argentina’s most ordinary cities in the country. Nope, it isn’t. One morning we went for a walk and noticed lots of people were gathering along the sides of the streets. Some parts were fenced off, others weren’t. We had stumbled upon Día de la Bandera Nacional, or Flag Day, which is one of Argentina’s national holidays (read about it here).

Each year Argentineans honor their flag and commemorate its creator, General Manual Belgrano. He hoisted it for the first time near the Paraná River, opposite Rosario, in 1812.

One of the particularities of this occasion is that the civilians carry the country’s longest flag through the streets. This is just one of the examples of extraordinary celebrations Argentina has. There are many more. For example, have you ever heard of the Day of the Unborn Child, or Boyfriend’s Day? Some that raise an eyebrow: Day of the Asshole, and Day of the Goalkeeper?

In fact, Argentina has some 150 days per year dedicated to national and public holidays. How many there are varies per month. February with only three commemorative days stands in contrast to October, which has about twenty of them.

It takes a while to understand the nuances in Argentina’s maze of holidays, not in the least because Argentinians themselves may not familiar with all of them. So I decided to do a blog post on the subject, trying to make some sense of it all.

Whether they make sense to you or not, just join and enjoy them!

Continue reading

5 Awe-Inspiring Landscapes in South America – Our Roles to Help Save the Planet

Tres Cruces, Peru

Tres Cruces, Peru

“An image of the earth, its landscapes, directly affects people. The beauty of the earth creates enormous emotion, and through that emotion, you can transmit knowledge and raise consciousness”~Yann Arthus-Bertrand

This quote spoke to me, which made me read up on Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s work and philosophy. He is known for, among other things, his book Earth from Above – aerial photos from landscapes around the world (more about that here). Yann Arthus-Bertrand is a photo-journalist , cinematographer as well as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations.

I decided share a couple of our photos with you that exactly had that effect on me: that emotion where it felt as if my chest enlarged because it filled with air and energy. Standing in these places made me aware of my minuscular role in the universe and the extraordinary beauty of our planet that we need to preserve and treasure. Continue reading

Sightseeing in Buenos Aires – 5 Hidden Corners

Sightseeing in Buenos Aires: Banco de la Provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina (photocoen)

Banco de la Provincia de Buenos Aires: detail of a bronze door

Sightseeing in Buenos Aires, let me think for a sec. Okay: taking tango lessons, eating slabs of beef, visiting the Recoleta Cemetery, strolling around Palermo, checking out the football stadium in La Boca…

All activities worth undertaking and places worth seeing. So, Coen and I did all that and more on the typical must-see-cum-do list for Buenos Aires. Then part two of the fun started, finding the city’s quiet yet charming spots, hidden churches, local restaurants, and anything else worth exploring outside guidebooks.

Sometimes we succeed on such missions, sometimes we don’t. In Buenos Aires we did and had a marvelous time in one particular neighborhood near Plaza de Mayo: the ‘Zona Bancaria’ – Argentina’s banking zone. We discovered it has much to offer in terms of churches, museums and architecture. Continue reading

5 Places in South America to Stand in Awe Before Forces of Nature

In South America we often feel overwhelmed by our surroundings, marvel at views, camp in grandiose terrains, and feel dwarfed by canyons and mountains. Among the well-known spectacular sceneries on the continent are the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina, Torres del Paine National Park in Chile, the Lake District in Patagonia, the colored lakes of Sud Lipez in Bolivia, and Valle de la Luna in Chile.

Let’s explore some of the lesser-known forces of nature. Continue reading

5 Places in South America to Soak in Hot Springs

Hot springs in South America: Thermal Bath in Southwest Bolivia (©photocoen)After 2,5 year of Amazon tropics Coen and I are happy to have returned to the colder and drier climate of the Andes Mountains. During these past 10 years I have never written, “Boy are we glad to be back in the tropics so we can wear shorts and bathing suits again,” yet I have expressed that, “It feels great to wear socks and sweaters again and to sleep under our down blanket.”

We’re cold-weather people. Continue reading

5 Places in South America to Listen to Silence

Silence in Deserto do Diablo in Northwest Argentina (©photocoen)“The sound of silence”
~Paul Simon

My parents had an album of Simon & Garfunkel. I loved listening to it and when I started learning English in highschool, one particular song triggered me: The Sound of Silence. I loved the melody and although I didn’t understand much of the lyrics, the words ‘sounds of silence’ made me wonder: did silence have a sound? It started listening to my surroundings and I concluded that the world was hardly ever silent. Continue reading